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THE CENTRE FOR NATURAL RESOURCE GOVERNANCE joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day. The day is commemorated on the 8th of March every year to celebrate the courageous women who are enduring systematic and systemic marginalization and oppression from social, economic and political structures. The theme for this years’ International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge and it exalts women who are challenging the status quo, defying odds and fighting for gender equality.

CNRG joins the world in celebrating courageous women from mining affected communities who are standing up to fight for their rights; to be involved in decision making processes on developmental issues that affect them and ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the governance of natural resources. CNRG is committed to empowering and capacitating women to face their struggles head-on. Women in Zimbabwe face an existential threat because of the ever expanding extractive sector that continues to grab their land, water and forests. Their livelihood options are shrinking rapidly as land that gives them food is grabbed through unjust laws that are manipulated by the rich and the powerful.

Climate change, which is fueled largely by industrialized nations, is adding to the misery of women in communities affected by extractive industries, which are also playing a significant contribution to carbon emissions and pollution of rivers, air and soils at the local level. Being custodians of food production, women are forced to work harder to produce as much food, and walk longer distances to fetch water and firewood as their forests have been enclosed.

Today we are commemorating this day amid uncertainty faced by women around Batoka area near Victoria Falls, Dinde and Cross Dete areas in Hwange, Chilonga in Chiredzi, Arda Transau in Odzi and Kusena in Marange who have either been displaced or are facing imminent eviction from their ancestral land. Whilst displacements are gender blind no gender, we note with concern that houses given to families displaced from Marange to pave way for diamond mining were handed over to men and women only benefitted by association, as wives of recipients of the houses. Thus displacements increase the vulnerability of women. We commiserate with these women who are in these precarious situations and call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies, in line with Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe

Women in mining communities depend and survive on the same land and natural resources that are being exploited by large corporates, yet, as custodians of the resources they are excluded from structures of decision making which takes away their rights to own land, to work and earn a living. Consequently, women are left poorer than their male counterparts who stand a better chance of getting employed and are sometimes consulted at the inception of extractive projects. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the predicament of women through restriction on informal trading and also the closure of borders. The Covid19 pandemic has made women’s care work at home difficult because they have had to endure lockdown with hungry children and family members.

We call upon:

  • Parliament of Zimbabwe to repeal unjust laws that strip women of their land rights
  • Government of Zimbabwe to halt all pending displacements of communities and ensure the country has humane resettlement policies that prioritise human dignity with special attention to marginalized groups such as women.
  • The Gender Commission to investigate the impacts of extractive industries on women in Zimbabwe and make policy recommendations for their protection against the negative effects of extractive projects
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